pen rainbow

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Mini-Post Thursday—Happy Hot Dog Men!

While we're on the topic of weiners...


Wednesday—Good For You, Good For The Home—Going Gray

Gray is the new blond
Comfortable in your skin

I prefer to call it "platinum elegance," as one vlogger referred to naturally gray hair.

Gray hair is mostly a result of genetics, but stress and exposure to toxins in the environment are contributing factors.  It's ironic, isn't it?  The hair color that women and men apply so diligently to mask the gray may over time be making hair turn gray faster due to the constant bombardment of harsh chemicals on the delicate cells (called, melanocytes) in the hair follicles that give hair its natural color.

Fwiw, melanocytes grow alongside keratinocytes, the cells that build hair strands, but they have a much shorter life span than keratinocytes.  As hair grows, the kerantinocytes build the strands, and the melanocytes provide melanin to the hair follicles through melanosomes (little packets of melanin within the cells).

In fact, the whole process is fairly elegant and complex because the specialization of cells within the follicles originates with stem cells.  As the stem cells within the hair follicle begin to develop and organize, they communicate with one another through messenger molecules.   There is a lot going on at the molecular level of every hair on your head.

When hair continues to grow, but the pigment is no longer being delivered, it means that the melanocytes have stopped doing their job.  Part of the reason is due to normal aging.  According to the Journal of Investigative Dermatology (2005), half of all 50-Somethings are at least 50 percent gray.  In addition,  sensitivity of our cells to genotoxic stress (i.e. things that damage cells at the genetic level, like toxic agents, the sun's ultraviolet rays, chemicals in our food and the environment, background ionizing radiation, and free radical molecules produced during metabolism) increases as we age.  There are too many genotoxic stressors to avoid them altogether, but it probably does not help to soak the complicated little hair follicles for extended periods of time in harsh chemicals that are specifically designed to alter the natural color.

The research also shows that genotoxic stress is a much more potent factor than everyday life stress when it comes to decreased melanocytes. Everyday life stress affects every system in the body, but relative to gray hair, the cause has more to do with genetics and normal aging than it does with job stress, moving, or having kids in high school, (although, that last one can cause hair-pulling for both parents and teenagers).

I like the idea of changing my current hair palette.  Natural gray adds boldness and distinction.  The baggers at Safeway are always offering to help take my groceries out to my car, and one of these days, I may take them up on it.  But, for now, I'm perfectly happy to prove that I can still hold two fully loaded bags of groceries with one arm, while I yank open the passenger door with the other, and manage not to drop my car keys underneath the front tire.

I'll look even cooler doing that with my lusterous silvery flowing hair.